León (Spain)

León is a city in Spain, and capital of the province of the same name. It has a city population of about 140,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan area of 200,000.


The city of León is in the northwest of Spain. It is on the Way of St. James and has a vast cultural, historical and architectural heritage. León was founded in the 1st century BC by the Roman legion Legio VI Victrix, which served under Caesar Augustus during the Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC), the final stage of the Roman conquest of Hispania. In the year 74 AD, the Legio VII Gemina —recruited from the Hispanics by Galba in 69 AD— settled in a permanent military camp that was the origin of the city. Its modern name is derived from the city's Latin name Legio. The Kingdom of León (established in 910 CE) was an ancient territory with a great Dynasty of Kings that would become kings of Spain after the union with the Kingdom of Aragon. The counties of Portugal and Castile were born as divisions of the ancient kingdom of León that remained independent until the union with Castile again.

Get in

By bus

ALSA (+34 902-44-22-42) runs buses from Madrid several times a day (3.5 hr). Buses leave from Estación Sur de Autobuses at the metro station Méndez Álvaro, a round trip costs between €20-40 per person. There are also some direct bus connections from Madrid Barajas International Airport.

By train

Renfe, +34 902-240-202, operates train service to/from Madrid (2h 50 min). Trains leave from Chamartin (Madrid north station) to León several times a day.

There are also direct train connections to Valladolid (1h 40min), Barcelona (8h), and other Spanish cities.

By plane

León Airport (IATA: LEN) is in the municipality of Virgen del Camino, 6 km from the city, and has daily connections with Madrid and Barcelona. Flights are operated by (Iberia) with connections to main Spanish and European cities. Access to the airport by road is from the N-120 Leon-Astorga road, and a taxi to the city centre costs between €20-25. There is also a public bus which costs €3, for the schedule, contact +34 987 219 656.

Nearby airports are Valladolid Airport (125 km) and Asturias Airport (170 km). ALSA operates daily direct services from Valladolid airport to León.

Get around

The city is not too big to see on foot, especially the main attractions, which are all quite close to one another.


12th century Romanesque frescoes of the Pantheon of Kings at the Basilica of San Isidro
León Cathedral

The city of León was founded by the Romans. Its name originates from the name Romans gave to the city, "Legio VII". Tourists who come to León can enjoy many monuments such as the city walls, the gothic cathedral or Roman monuments such as the Church of San Marcelo.


From the cathedral, to the Bernesga River, there are two main streets, Calle Ancha, and Ordoño II, full of shops. In the middle of Ordoño II there's Alcázar de Toledo Street with shops.


Within the wide range of Leonese cuisine the following dishes are the most representative: Cecina (cured, smoked beef), morcilla (a superb variant of blood sausage), botillo (a dish of meat-stuffed pork intestine), garlic soup, el cocido leonés (a mix of meat with vegetables and chickpeas, served after a vegetable-vermicelli soup) and mantecadas (a sweet).

Another very important part of the gastronomy of León are the tapas that you can get in most of the many bars in the city. The most important thing about these tapas is that they are free unlike in most cities in Spain. It is a very common thing to do to go "de tapas" or "tapear" i.e. to go for a few drinks ("un corto", which is a very small beer, "una caña", which is roughly half a pint of beer or "un vino," a glass of wine) just before lunch, but more normally as a light form of dinner.

Any tourist visiting León will enjoy the ancient streets of "Barrio Húmedo". There it is possible to visit many bars in which tapas (for free) are served along with nice wines from "Tierras de Leon", "Ribera de Duero", or "Vino del Bierzo".

You can also visit some villages near Leon with vineyards such as Valdevimbre. There you will find caves that are as old as 300 years. Originally they were dug for wine cellars since they maintain nearly the same temperature year round. Today they are still used to make wine. Some of them have become restaurants or pubs.

The oldest cave-restaurant was opened in 1979 and it is called La Cueva del Tunel. It has a typical decoration with an Indian touch.

In Los Poinos you can find a mix between new cuisine and typical food from Leon.

In any of the Cuevas restaurants you will be able to enjoy the typical food from Leon such as cecina, callos, morcilla (blood pudding), etc. all those traditional place will be accompanied by local wines as Pardevalles, Tampesta, Barcillo or Los Palomares (inside the new D.O. Tierras de Leon).

Valdevimbre is 23 km from Leon and you can drive there or get a taxi for approximately €25 from Leon.


Tierra de León is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines from the south of the province of León. This wines are usually done with the unique grape variety typical from Leon, the Prieto Picudo, although Mencía type of grapes are also used. The Tierra de Léon wine region consists of 36 vineyards (Bodegas), which produce 1.5 million litres of wine annually.

Go bar-hopping and/or clubbing in the barrio húmedo, a charming old neighborhood with narrow streets, with a concentration of pubs, discos, and restaurants. This area isn't usually very active during the day and can get fairly rowdy at night. However, despite how many people may be stumbling around drunkenly at 03:00, this neighborhood is very safe, even for single females late at night.





Go next

In León Province:

Outside León Province:

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